Peer-to-Peer Lending… and Push-Ups
Venture capitalist Paul Graham has a famous essay on 8 lessons for startups. I’d like to add a ninth lesson to the list: You Will Get Fat. Being stressed supposedly causes weight loss, but the effect is easily offset by an abundant supply of food. Whether it’s the weekly catered lunches, or the semi-monthly birthday cakes, or the endless supply of Costco-sized snacks, we love to eat… a lot. It has led to the rather deplorable fact that a company of about 25 people has collectively gained over 200 pounds in the last year.
In a timely coincidence, we stumbled across the One Hundred Push-up Challenge. The pitch is alluring – give us 6 weeks, we’ll take you to 100 consecutive push-ups. So alluring that it’s been Dugg, Lifehacked, and blogged; spawned Facebook and LiveStrong groups; and – of course – generated the obligatory push-up tracking site (this is the ‘net, after all).
Seduced by promises of a “great chest and shoulders” and improvements in “strength, fitness and general health [in] about 30 minutes…per week”, 13 foolhardy Lending Club souls (including the CEO and COO) started the program four weeks ago. As additional incentive, losers – those who ultimately fail to reach 100 push-ups – would have to buy winners dinner.
So that explains why, if you pass by the office on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday around 6pm, you will hear a curious symphony of groans, grunts, and gasps. To prepare, some participants strip to their undershirts, others stretch arm and back muscles, while still others pray to the deity of their choice – whatever small rituals will see them through the session. Then the count begins: “Ready… Down… one. Down… two. Down… three…” Five sets and an eternity later, red-faced, gasping, and trembling, we roll over and ask those same deities what we did to deserve such punishment.
Nevertheless, the pain has unquestionably produced results. Everyone has shown marked improvement. The average number of consecutive push-ups has risen from the low teens to the mid-forties. Pounds have been shed. Spouses and significant others have been taking note.
The discerning reader might wonder what any of this has to do with building the world’s most innovative peer-to-peer lending company. Well, we are in a quiet period, after all; we’ve got to find something to occupy our time. And once we’re done with the push-up program, the chests and arms we’ve developed will help us improve the service we provide to you, our customer, because, um, well…
Time for another push-up.
Friday, August 29th, 2008 at 10:24 am